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Guest article

Electrification reduces noise level of drives

Molinari Rail supplies customised solutions to the rail vehicle industry all over the world and supports customers in the design and development of vehicles and subsystems.


Guest article
Michele Molinari, Molinari Rail Group Owner and President of the Board of Directors

For this reason, Molinari Rail was chosen as a partner of Plasser & Theurer for the design, conceptualisation and system integration of the electric drive for the UNIMAT 09-4x4 E³. The concept was implemented at Plasser & Theurer in Linz and started test operations in August 2017.

Based on the experience of the electric diesel hydraulic drive of the Unimat 09-32/4S Dynamic E³, the BDS 2000 E³ and the Dynamic Tamping Express 09-4X E³, the idea was to expand to a fully electric drive. The electrical equipment consisting of the high-voltage roof equipment, the electric traction system from ABB and the proprietary bogie with electric motors was integrated into one work machine. The traction is fully electric under overhead lines; on “non-electrified routes” diesel-electric traction is used.

Thanks to the close co-operation between Plasser & Theurer and Molinari Rail the development, construction, commissioning and testing of this new type of machine could be completed within one year. Both partners were happy to rise to and meet the challenges of the project in every respect due to the excellent co-operation.

The fully electrified vehicle drive system also offers the possibility to decouple certain auxiliary operations and units from the hydraulic system and to operate them with improved efficiency, resulting in further optimisation of the overall vehicle energy efficiency.

The fully electric drive system offers considerable benefits over the hydrostatic drive package in terms of noise and exhaust gas emissions, life cycle costs (LCC), reliability and efficiency levels. This applies equally to work runs under the overhead line and to transit runs.

Martin Steinlechner
Technical Manager, Molinari Rail

Noise reduction in drive system and working units

Thanks to the electrification of the drivetrain it was possible to considerably reduce or even avoid noise and exhaust gas emissions. Thus, this new generation of machines meets the increasingly stringent requirements of customers and residents with regard to noise and environmental protection to their full extent. The E³ machines therefore contribute considerably to the improvement of the environmental footprint.

The reduced noise levels of drive system and working units achieved through electrification also have a positive impact on health and safety. Increasing awareness among the population and more stringent handling among politicians of the subjects of noise and exhaust gas emissions manifest themselves in an uncertain future of the operationally proven diesel engine, even in the area of rail traffic. Therefore, it is essential for non-electrified routes to develop new approaches and solutions.

Integrating alternative drive variants

When developing the new drive concept, consideration was also given to the potential future integration of alternative drive variants which could replace the diesel engine as a drive unit in the long run.

The new drive concept is fully prepared and ready for integrating alternative and environmentally-friendly energy sources, such as hydrogen fuel cells, supercaps and other energy storage media.

Molinari Rail – A passion for railway solutions

Molinari Rail is a full-service engineering partner with long-standing experience in all areas of railway technology, design, manufacturing, maintenance and operation of railways. Molinari Rail supports its customers in the design and development of vehicles and subsystems as well as with approvals, commissioning, maintenance and upgrades.

Molinari Rail with its headquarters in Switzerland employs approx. 200 technical experts, engineers and technicians. The company has offices and representations in Austria, Germany, Italy, Colombia and Bolivia.